Cree negotiations with Quebec over forestry have all but broken down, and Crees have taken the first steps to crank up their court case again.
“We’re at an impasse,” said a frustrated Abel Bosum, who is leading negotiations with the province.
“Quebec has not shown any political will to convince us there is still room for improvement,” he said.
The Quebec cabinet was supposed to meet Oct. 18 to discuss offering Crees a better deal to keep negotiations on the road.
The date was then postponed to Oct. 25, then again to mid-November.
The delays mean a scheduled meeting between Grand Chief Ted Moses and Premier Lucien Bouchard has also been postponed.
Meanwhile, Quebec’s negotiator, Bernard Harvey, has disappeared on holidays.
“There seem to be some signs they are not serious,” said Bosum.
Harvey and Quebec Natural Resource Minister Jacques Brassard’s office did not return phone calls from The Nation.
The delays led Crees to ask their lawyers to go to Quebec Superior Court on Oct. 24 to request a date to re-commence hearings in the forestry court case. The suit was suspended during the negotiations.
The Supreme Court of Canada is expected to decide soon if it will hear a Cree appeal of two early decisions in the case.
Originally, both sides had set Sept. 30 as the deadline for a deal. “We put a lot of faith in these negotiations, a lot of time and energy,” said Bosum.
Bosum criticized Quebec for entering the talks this summer without giving its negotiator any manoeuvering room to make meaningful concessions.
“It’s sort of hard to believe. We made it clear (the negotiations) would be (held on a) nation-to-nation (basis), and that the negotiator would be able to speak on behalf of the government,” he said.